Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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The inaugural Connect: Beyond the Page festival and conference is coming right up at venues around Asheville on April 20-22. The event looks like Asheville’s version of SXSW to me, offering a mix of speakers, panelists, performers and film screenings that will explore how collaboration can create a narrative that influences social change. It’s organized by Jessica Tomasin and her event company, Jet-Up Productions. Tomasin is one of the major forces on the Asheville music scene and beyond.

Here’s the press release:


The inaugural Connect: Beyond The Page conference and festival has confirmed a second round of speakers and panelists for its April 20-22, 2018 event. The multi-venue event will take place in downtown Asheville, an urban setting known for its innovative art, music, and food scenes. A full lineup of newly added and previously announced industry participants are confirmed below.

The conference and festival aims to bridge creative disciplines by bringing together musicians, writers, filmmakers, media personalities, and activists to unearth the myriad of ways in which art inspires us and can influence social change. The three-day event boasts an eclectic lineup of panels, speakers, and performances including an exciting event featuring Bob Boilen, host of NPR’s All Songs Considered and Tiny Desk Concert. Boilen will host two live interviews featuring Grammy nominated pop duo Sylvan Esso as well as critically acclaimed singer-songwriter Christopher Paul Stelling. The interviews will be based on Boilen’s book, “Your Song Changed My Life.”

Also to note is the reunion screening of the Oscar winning film Cold Mountain (which was set in the Asheville, NC/ Blue Ridge Mountain region) with author Charles Frazier and the film’s producers William Horberg and Albert Berger set to attend. Rolling Stone Senior Editor Joseph Hudak; Award-winning playwright Lydia Diamond; Peter Rabbit film producer Jason Lust; Run Lola Run and Cloud Atlas composer Reinhold Heil; India Osborne, film producer and managing partner of BUF, the award winning visual effects company behind The Matrix, Blade Runner 2049, and Life of Pi; as well as renowned author and activist Starhawk, are among just some of the latest esteemed creatives announced to contribute their voices and insights.

Connect: Beyond The Page is proud to receive support from the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority and Explore Asheville. With the vibrant mountain town on the tip of everyone’s tongue due to an influx of acclaim and accolades, Asheville is known for its cutting-edge art culture, break-out music scene, farm-to-table cuisine, and historic architecture.

For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit

Albert Berger – producer (Little Miss Sunshine, Nebraska)
Ben Lovett – composer (The Ritual, Synchronicity)
Bill Horberg – producer (Cold Mountain, The Kite Runner)
Billy Edd Wheeler – Hall of Fame songwriter, author, playwright (Hotter Than A Pepper Sprout)
Charles Frazier – author, (Cold Mountain, Varina)
David Bruckner – filmmaker (The Ritual, V/H/S)
Ethan Gold – composer (Adventures of Power, Song of Sway Lake)
India Osborne – producer, life coach, visual effects (Thor, Life of Pi)
Jason Lust – producer (Peter Rabbit, Alexander and the No Good, Very Bad Day)
Jenny Halper – screenwriter, production executive (Maven Pictures)
John Goodwin – singer-songwriter
Joseph Hudak – senior editor, Rolling Stone Magazine
Lyric Leeda Jones – songwriter
Maya Lilly – producer, actress, playwright (Mixed)
Natalie Hopkinson – author, journalist (A Mouth is Always Muzzled)
Reinhold Heil – composer (Run Lola Run, Cloud Atlas)
Starhawk – author, activist, teacher (The Fifth Sacred Thing)
Sylvan Esso – Grammy nominated pop duo
More participants to be announced!

Previously Announced Speakers and Participants
Ben Sollee — cellist, community activist
Big Chief Juan Pardo — musician, Mardi Gras Indian Chief
Bob Boilen — host of NPR’s All Songs Considered, author (Your Song Changed My Life)
Christopher Paul Stelling – singer-songwriter
Jay Erskine Leutze — author, conservationist (Stand Up That Mountain)
Johnny Irion — musician, producer
Joyce Ferder Rankin – two-time Emmy winning journalist, filmmaker (Degrees To Extinction)
Lydia Diamond — award-winning playwright (Stick Fly, Smart People)
Scott Sherratt – Grammy nominated producer, director

Using music (song), film (screen), and storytelling (page), Connect: Beyond the Page explores how collaboration and adaptation create a narrative that can influence social change. Using Asheville as a creative hub, speakers, panelists, performances and screenings will take place in unique settings around the city. The inaugural conference and festival will take place April 20th-22nd, 2018. For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1

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